HARLEM – Popular spoken word poet, musician and Gilbert “Gil” Scott-Heron, who was born to a Jamaican father in Chicago 62 years ago, was laid to rest following a viewing at the Harlem Riverside Church in New York City
Scott-Heron, most well-known for his composition, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Jamaican soccer player, and Bobbie Scott-Heron, who sang with the New York Oratorio Society.
His father became the first black athlete to play for Glasgow Celtic Football Club in Scotland but his parents separated when he was two and Gil was sent to live with his maternal grandmother, Lillie Scott, in Jackson, Tennessee.
When Scott-Heron was 12 years old, his grandmother died and he moved with his mother to The Bronx in New York City, where he enrolled in DeWitt Clinton High School.
He later transferred to The Fieldston School after one of his teachers, a Fieldston graduate, showed one of his writings to the head of the English department at Fieldston and he was granted a full scholarship.
Scott-Heron attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, as it was the college chosen by his biggest influence Langston Hughes. It was here that Scott-Heron met Brian Jackson with whom he formed the band, Black & Blues. After about two years at Lincoln, Scott-Heron took a year off to write the novels, “The Vulture,” and “The Nigger Factory.”
The Last Poets performed at Lincoln in 1969 and Abiodun Oyewole of the Harlem group said Scott-Heron asked him after the performance, “Listen, can I start a group like you guys?”
Scott-Heron returned to New York City, settling in Chelsea, Manhattan. The Vulture was published in 1970 and well received. Although Scott-Heron never received his undergraduate degree, he received a Master’s degree in Creative Writing in 1972 from Johns Hopkins University. His 1972 dissertation was titled Circle of stone.
Scott-Heron’s recording work has received much critical acclaim and his poetic style has been influential upon every generation of hip hop since his popularity began. In addition to being widely considered an influence in today’s music, he remained active until his death, and in 2010 released his first new album in 16 years, entitled “I’m New Here.”
Scott-Heron died on the afternoon of May 27, 2011, at St. Luke’s Hospital, New York City, after becoming ill upon returning from a European trip.